Leucio’s sense of humor is as bright as the orange dress shirt he wore the day he stopped by to tell his story. At 61, he’s been coming to the soup kitchen for almost twenty years. He first came for lunch in 1998, when he was referred by a nearby support program for adults with disabilities that no longer had funding to serve food.
“I thought a soup kitchen was something from the 1800s, where they just hand out soup,” says Leucio. “I didn’t realize you could get a full meal.”
Leucio has Cerebral Palsy and now relies on Social Security Disability payments to make ends meet. He used to work part-time at Bronx State Hospital, where he taught a cooking class to patients, but his social security checks are now his sole source of income. He has a studio apartment through the Section 8 program – “I live with three people, he jokes, “me, myself, and I.” Coming to the soup kitchen is an opportunity to socialize with fellow guests, and the meals helps him survive on a very limited income. “I just don’t have enough money to buy food,” he says.
In addition to the soup kitchen’s healthy lunches, Leucio has found nourishment of a different kind through the Writers’ Workshop and still takes pride in the story he wrote that was published in one of the workshop anthologies. Having struggled with a learning disability and graduating high school reading at a fourth-grade level, Leucio says that encouragement from the workshop instructors gave him confidence he never had in school.
“I never wrote before the Writers’ Workshop,” he says. “It never went through my mind that I was good. Today my therapist read my story and she told me it was brilliant!”